2015 was a good year for us, but fairly chaotic. Much time was spent moving our furniture and belongings up and down the stairs, in and out of the barn and, in some cases, across the Channel and back again. This was all due to the building work going on chez nous in France. We decided to get on with it sooner rather than later, to get it over with and to take advantage of the availability of the various artisans while we had them hooked – the world of blogging is filled with tales of woe as people struggle to find builders, plumbers and carpenters and commit them to getting on with the job and finishing it. We have been very lucky that way, largely because of some friends who live nearby who were able to point us in the direction of reliable artisans and keep tabs on the work in our absence.
Then there were numerous trips across the channel for various crises, always
in a tearing hurry and never when it was convenient. It’s been a heck of a year
but we survived smiling (well, more of a grimace at times) and if you’re vaguely
interested, there’s a brief pictorial account, starting here.
Throughout all the chaos and building dust I managed to bake quite often.
What I didn’t have the time to do was write about it. In actual fact the main
problem was not so much finding the time to write but in finding somewhere
sensible to set up the laptop and do it. In our French house there are many
no-go areas where the rather feeble broadband does not get through the
enormously thick stone walls, so in order for the computer to work only certain
spots in the house will do. Finding an unoccupied bit of table or any other
flat surface in the right spot was not always possible.
This next few posts will include a number of my forgotten bakes – things I
made and that worked well but never got the chance to write about.
First of all is the Chocolate and Cherry Spice Cake that I made for Nick’s
birthday in November. The recipe comes from a lovely blog called “Life’s a Feast”, written
by a lady called Jamie, who, with her French husband, bought a hotel in Chinon
last year. She posts lovely recipes and her cakes look divine. So far this is
the only one I have made but I have several bookmarked for future enjoyment.
You can see the blog here.
My pictures do not do the cake justice for it really is gorgeous.
Essentially it’s a chocolate cake with spices and dark cherries in it, baked in
a Bundt tin.
The recipe suggests using the bottled dark cherries you can find in France,
called griottes. I found a jar quite easily as they are readily available but
also quite expensive. I used a large jar as I couldn’t get a small one but the
leftover cherries were lovely served with chunks of the cake and a little cream
(or just by themselves). In the UK I think I would use a tin of dark cherries
which would be fine.
In the recipe cherries are arranged carefully in the bottom of the tin so
that when the cake is baked they form a nice even ring on the top. I tried that
but the effect was not great, or not nearly as good as in the blog, so next time
I think I will just mix them all in.
Some of the juice from the jar is added to the mixture but I decided to add
cherry brandy instead. As usual I didn’t have all the right ingredients to hand
so in place of the ½ teaspoon of ground cloves I used mixed spice.
It was a lovely, moist cake and right up Nick’s street. He loves chocolate, spices
and cherries so it was spot on for his birthday. It was a large cake but
it kept well and was still good after almost a week. You can see the recipe here.